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From Financial Integrity

Jane - Valuing what’s really important

  • Urban Northeast USA and France
  • Multi-adult household
  • One child/dependent


Fall 2010 update

Life moves on. After leaving paid employment four years ago, Sky and I decided we would spend part of our time on our houseboat in France (newly purchased), part of our time at home in Vermont, and part of our time volunteering at home and abroad. We came and went for up to 5 months at a time, leaving our two young adult children at home to pay the bills and watch over things. A year-and-a-half ago, the four of us decided it was time to no longer live together as a family.

Sky and I had volunteered in New Orleans in the spring of 2008 and fell in love with the city and the culture. In the spring of 2009, our two kids moved out and rented a big house with several friends, and we, in turn, rented our Vermont home to a young couple with a baby. In the fall of 2009, we moved to New Orleans, bought property, and and in the spring of 2010 began building a house. Changes afoot for everyone.

Financial integrity fits in with all of this. Our daughter, now 23, continues personal tracking as well as manages the finances of the group household. She continues to work at several part time jobs, and has her own graphic design business. Our son, now 20, doesn't track on paper, but he seems to know well his income and expenses. After working full time for the past year-and-a-half, he realized that he only needed to work two days a week to earn enough money to meet his expenses. Since he wanted to have a life beyond work, he told his employer he was either quitting or working two days a week. His employer, wanting to hold onto him, said yes to the two days a week -- and gave him a raise! Now he has plenty of time for snowboarding, disc golf, and dancing -- and is available as a substitute when others at his workplace need to take some time off. It's wonderful to see how happy they are, how responsible they are, and how much financial intelligence and integrity they both have, in their own way.

People have asked me to tell them how we pulled this off -- leaving paid work in our mid-50s, traveling, living abroad, having the freedom to do what we want, and raising kids to understand all of this as well. So, I wrote a book! Freedom Through Frugality (spend less, have more) tells it all -- the "whys" and the "hows" -- and is available through my website, spiritoflifepublishing.com.

Summer 2008

When [Sky and I] met we both had savings accounts, and we both believed in living simply. We had no debt (and we have never had debt in 23 years of marriage, paying cash for everything). My husband was excessively frugal, however, being uncomfortable spending money on just about anything, preferring to make do, make it himself, or do without. With our combined savings, we bought land and built our house -- all with cash.

Enter the Financial Integrity Program. I knew after I read it that living on $7,000/year was not "enough" for me. I wanted to follow the program to find out what was Enough. I have found that the nine step program gives me a framework from which to understand how my life is going – environmentally, financially, and ethically – to find my place of Enough.

I love tracking, still do it after all 14 years, can't imagine not. It's enabled us to figure out how to live half time in Europe and half time in the States, to volunteer as we wish, and to travel as well..... Since we hardly buy anything but food over here [in France], it's not too hard!!!! (and the food is mighty good :^).

But our lives cannot be just boiled down to how we spend our money, what things we own, what we eat, where we live, how we get around, and what goods and services we purchase. Our lives can be boiled down to our relationships – with our individual self, with our families, with our friends, with our colleagues, with our neighbors, with our communities, with the natural world, and with the rest of the planet. It is in our relationships that we find meaning.

To move on to the next generation, our daughter (now 21) started tracking her income and expenses when she was 16, and started paying for her own clothes and personal items at that time. She… is working on her own FI path. She still lives with us, but now pays for everything including health care, car expenses, household expenses and food (so easy to figure out since I track!), and she has 2 part time jobs and her own small business. She's got her investments started, and is happy working on the balance of part time work, and part time play. Her brother is 17, and, like his father, has no interest in tracking. He also has a part time job, pays for his own clothes and personal items (we agreed he would start paying his share of household expenses, etc. at age 18).

Instead of paying for college, we gave them both a chunk of money a few years ago to start them out as adults. They can use that money for college, traveling, buying land, building a house, starting a business, or starting their nest egg.


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